Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.‘
This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.
The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.
Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?
This week God has been talking to me about family. It started when I was talking with a friend about her family. Her family experienced some hardship but didn’t handle it well. As a result, some relationships suffered and today still need attention.
The conversation I had with my friend reminded me of my family. Last year I moved away from family but didn’t make an effort to stay in contact. I wanted to leave them behind as much as possible because of my past (terrible) experiences. However, after some thinking and praying, I believe God wants me to connect with them again.
Have you struggled with your family in the past? Are there relationships you can help mend?
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.‘
God wants every one of us to love each other the way He loves. This includes family.
I was alone in my bedroom when I finally couldn’t hold it in any longer. My shoulders started to shake, and I began to cry. I was upset because I was following my emotions, and they were dictating my mood. I had a decision to make; I could continue to allow my feelings to control me, or I could take control of myself and go to God.
When I look at my life, I want to see a man of God who is firm and secure. I want to see courage, faith and fearlessness.
What do you want to see in your life? Perhaps you also want to be secure, firmly planted on the rock that is Christ. Maybe you want to have more control over your impulses and desires.
I have good news! Every impulsive desire, failure or fear can be overcome by renewing your mind.
When I was alone in my bedroom, I chose to pray. After praying a little while, I started playing worship music and singing. After only a few minutes, my emotions turned from sadness to contentment. I knew deep down how much God loves me.
If you want to take control of your emotions, actions and ultimately, your life, get alone with God and refresh yourself. Don’t just leave God in the part of your day where you do your devotion, but instead live with Him. If you see a need for more strength, don’t hesitate to ask Him.
Romans 12:2 says ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.‘
From a young age, I have been competitive. I always do my best to win at everything – from games at a friend’s house, to working on a project for my job; I do everything I can to be the best. This competitiveness drove me to listen to a lot of audiobooks. The purpose was to learn everything I could about my job, the world, and business in general. The problem is that a lot of successful people chase after money. They aren’t Christian, and their values started to rub off on me as I listened.
Can you relate to this? Do you find yourself following other values rather than God’s?
This morning I prayed that God would realign my heart and my desires. I want to follow Him and His direction for my life rather than creating my plan. I know God is looking out for me now. I have surrendered to Him so that He will lead me.
Each day is a day to surrender. To follow God requires each step (each day) to be used for good. Each day is an opportunity to draw closer to God and the destiny He has for you!
Proverbs 3:5-6 says ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.‘ God will lead when we are willing to follow.
I was reading the bible in Proverbs when I came across an unusual verse. The verse made me rethink how I view giving and generosity. I was convicted and challenged when I understood another aspect of how giving works. The Bible text said (Proverbs 19:17) ‘Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.‘ Wow! I didn’t know God took generosity so seriously! The fact that he takes personal ownership of our kindness to the poor, turning it into a loan He will repay shows His heart for the poor.
What makes this verse even more interesting is how He chooses to be in our debt. As far as I am aware, this is the only time God is in our debt! God is very generous to us already, extending His grace every day. We are almost always on the receiving end when it comes to our relationship. After all, He is the one who saved us, and He is the one who gave His love without expectation of return. However, here He is giving us the opportunity to give back beyond His expectations. The act of giving to the poor reverses the roles of giving and receiving. God becomes the receiver, but true to His generous character, he will not accept the gift without promising another gift in return!
Worshipping God is powerful. When I open my heart and worship, every little thing fades into nothing. My perspective changes as I focus all my attention and energy. I can feel every part of me worshipping. As I sing, my words become a prayer. I experience a powerful sensation shoot through my body, often leading to tears falling down my face. This real and raw submission to God gives me more peace than I can describe, more love than I can understand, and the strength to face any situation.
I love worshipping! I have to set a timer on my phone or risk spending hours alone, inevitably making me late for something. The act of worship puts me into a timeless state. I lose all other senses.
John 4:23-24 says ‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.‘
As this verse shows, when we worship, we are connecting directly to God. God is seeking worshippers, but unfortunately, in this age, there are so many distractions that take our attention; Worshipping God changes that attention to God and aligns us with Him. If you aren’t feeling connected with God or haven’t experienced this, set aside 2 hours with no distractions, play worship music and listen to the words, making them your prayer. You will not feel the same after! (Ideally, 20+ minutes of daily worship will become a part of every morning.)
The past few days I have been pushed to my limit. Waking up each morning to a work emergency that required my immediate attention is not what I would consider a good start to my day. These days didn’t allow me to spend the usual time alone with God each morning. This lack of connection has affected me. I have been leaning on my strength, and unlike earlier, the stress of living without God has built up.
Today I read from Job 40. The whole chapter God speaks to Job and his friends, reminding them of their power compared to His. These verses convicted me because I have been leaning on my strength rather than His.
If you were to look at yourself, do you find stress, worry or anxiety? Set aside an hour to reconnect with God. It will reset your heart and mind, removing those stresses and replacing them with love, joy and peace.
Isaiah 40:28 says ‘Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.‘ It is no wonder life is so much easier when I trust in Him! I want God to lead me and guide me!
When I was in my teenage years, I didn’t know the love God has for me. I felt alone and unloved, no realising that what I see isn’t the only reality. Just because I couldn’t see Him working in my life didn’t mean He wasn’t. The truth is, no matter my perspective, God is right by me. He speaks to my heart and gently nudges me in the right direction each day, desiring for me to respond.
After I had an encounter with God and His love (around age 16), my life took a significant turn for the better. I lost all suicidal thoughts, let go of a lot of hate toward others, and felt love and emotions again. Now that I see, I can look back and see how God hadn’t forgotten about me but was patiently waiting. It brings me to tears just thinking about how patient He is!
2 Peter 3:9 says ‘The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.‘
If you feel lonely, remember that God is waiting patiently for you. He wants your heart, and will pursue you until He gets it! When others push your patience, remember God has more.
Lately, I have been challenged not to judge others. I often find myself looking at the appearance of other people, and if they don’t look good enough for my standards, thinking they don’t care for themselves properly. This thinking is very unhealthy because it changes my perspective of others from how much they are valued the way God loves them to the way I see them.
The past two weeks I have been working toward not judging others. I noticed myself appreciating people more and getting along with everyone better. I found I have more in common than I first realised. I really started to see others positively.
Matthew 7:1-5 says ‘ “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” ‘
This week I will continue to look at others positively, not judging on appearances but having a genuine interest in them.
As I was kneeling by my bed listening to worship music, I felt refreshed. I felt the power of God gently flowing into my body, slowly filling me with peace and love. I love this feeling!
You can find peace and rest in God’s presence. If life is too busy, too stressful, or too intense, stop for 30 minutes and focus on God. He will fill you and give you strength to keep going.
Exodus 33:14 says ‘And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”’ In this verse, God is speaking to Moses. God reminds him he is not alone. With God’s presence, rest is found.